So­mali of­fi­cials re­port deadly us-backed raid on al-shabab

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - CLASSIFIEDS - Abdi Guled

NairObi, Kenya — so­mali com­man­dos backed by u.s. forces raided two al-shabab check­points at which the ex­trem­ists ex­tort money from com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles, killing sev­eral fight­ers, so­mali in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials said Wed­nes­day.

The of­fi­cials also said two u.s. airstrikes in the area dur­ing the overnight raid de­stroyed an ex­plo­sives­laden minibus that was pre­pared for a com­plex at­tack on an un­spec­i­fied lo­ca­tion. The of­fi­cials spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they were not au­tho­rized to speak to the me­dia.

The u.s. africa com­mand in a state­ment said four ex­trem­ists were killed in a “self-de­fence airstrike” after u.s. and part­ner forces came un­der at­tack. it said no civil­ians were in­volved.

res­i­dents of awd­he­gle, a farm­ing vil­lage in lower sha­belle re­gion in south­ern so­ma­lia, told The as­so­ci­ated Press they had heard gun­fire and ex­plo­sions.

“some­thing big hap­pened here last night. We only know that al­shabab was un­der at­tack, said one el­der, who gave his name only as yusuf for fear of reprisal from the al-Qaida-linked ex­trem­ists.

“Then we woke up to find fight­ers sealed off the whole area in the morn­ing,” he said.

The u.s. mil­i­tary has stepped up the fight against al-shabab since Pres­i­dent don­ald Trump took of­fice, car­ry­ing out more airstrikes in 2017 than over the pre­vi­ous decade. The u.s. has car­ried out at least 38 airstrikes this year.

al-shabab “uses por­tions of south­ern and cen­tral so­ma­lia to plot and di­rect ter­ror at­tacks, steal hu­man­i­tar­ian aid, ex­tort the lo­cal pop­u­lace to fund its op­er­a­tions and shel­ter rad­i­cal ter­ror­ists,” the u.s. state­ment said.

The ex­trem­ist group uses wide­spread ex­tor­tion of busi­ness­men and trav­ellers to fund its high-pro­file at­tacks in ma­jor cities such as mo­gadishu, col­lect­ing mil­lions of dol­lars a year.

The u.s. mil­i­tary in co-or­di­na­tion with so­mali forces, as well as an african union force, have tar­geted al-shabab’s fi­nance op­er­a­tions in re­cent weeks.

last month, so­mali in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials said at least four mis­siles hit a base for over 30 ex­trem­ists as­signed to col­lect live­stock taxes from no­madic com­mu­ni­ties in the cen­tral mudug re­gion.

in Oc­to­ber, the au force said the head of tax col­lec­tion in lower sha­belle re­gion was killed after an am­bush on a meet­ing of al-shabab fight­ers in south­ern so­ma­lia.

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